"NHL" Stands For: "No Hockey Love" from the New York Media

Michael PollackContributor IMarch 23, 2011

This just in...Hockey was mentioned yesterday on Michael Kay's radio program on 1050 ESPN Radio!

No, not because there was concern over Marc Staal's mysterious injury, or the Devils' Cinderella story that may be in its final chapter, nor the fallout from Matt Cooke's flagrant elbow to Ryan McDonagh's head. No, no.

Perhaps it was mentioned because the Rangers could have gone a long way to wrapping up a playoff berth with a win over the Panthers on Tuesday? Nope. Not that either.

No, Kay had lost a friendly bet to radio co-host Don LaGreca and was "compelled" to attend the game, decked out in full Ranger garb. While finding a helmet big enough for his melon had to be a challenge, Kay seemed absolutely mortified by stepping foot in the Garden with full Ranger gear on.

Is this what hockey's coverage, even in major cities and Original Six towns, has come to?

Kudos to ESPN for giving LaGreca a forum to voice his love of the sport, however, I think I speak for hockey fans everywhere when I say we are tired of being treated like third-class citizens.

When it comes up in conversation, whether on Kay's show or on a WFAN 660 show like Boomer and Carton, the subject is quickly changed to "sports that matter" because "no one cares about hockey."

Millions of people do care about the sport, both in the country and world wide.

Many hockey fans like football and baseball, too, and are knowledgeable enough people to know that if you're not going to talk hockey, we'll enter the conversation another way, by talking about sports that you deem are "worthy."

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy:

The media doesn't want hockey talk. Then poo-poos the game. Fans then don't call you to talk about it. You then interpret that as a lack of interest. Vicious cycle.

If it's because hockey is "irrelevant," I question why I heard Knicks talk when the city had all but given up on the sport, and tickets were being practically given away at the Garden to get butts in the seats.

How about the Nets? Evan Roberts, who I think does a great job on WFAN, can go on for hours about his beloved New Jersey Nets, who seem to lack a fan base.

Mike Francesa admits he knows nothing about hockey, but apparently he knows enough to say recently that the regular season doesn't matter. Wake him up when the playoffs arrive, he says. Of course, Mike talks basketball regularly, and last time I checked, that sport has the same number of games and the same tournament-style playoffs as hockey.

If you don't know about a certain sport, call up the insiders and get the scoop. People who don't know tend to make good interviewers because they are legitimately trying to get at something they're not familiar with.

To not talk puck because you are "ignorant" makes you seem lazy when you have an army of great analysts and writers at your fingertips.

Speaking for the New York market and as a Ranger fan, if you give us the respect we deserve, we will give you the ratings you so desire. We are no different than any other fans. Our sport may be the fourth of the big-four sports when it comes to ratings and revenue, but hockey has a place on the sports landscape, and it doesn't have to be relegated to late-night talk with Steve Somers.

To pretend it doesn't exist is beyond insulting.

I'm sure when Kay's show rolls around this afternoon, hockey will get a few laughs because Kay got some yucks being in the spotlight last night.

The thing is, when you treat us like a joke, that tends to be how we see you. Show us some love. You just might learn something.